Fillmore rapper San Quinn celebrates 20 years in the game with three new releases this year and a show at Agenda on Saturday. Photo by Matt Crawford.
San Francisco hip-hop stalwart San Quinn recently celebrated 20 years in the rap game, no small feat considering how quickly some artists rise and fall from the spotlight. Though he’s seen the trends and sonics change—his 2006 hit “Hell Yeah” was one of the high points of the mid-aughts hyphy movement—his modus operandi remains the same: honest, authentic lyricism.
Though born in Oakland, Quincy Brooks IV, grew up in San Francisco’s Fillmore district. Along with JT the Bigga Figga, he’s one of the city’s hallmark rappers. On Feb. 16, he will travel to the South Bay to headline a show at Agenda Lounge.
Quinn’s success has come from adhering to Vallejo rapper E-40′s two H’s: remaining humble and hungry. As his Facebook artist page proves, Quinn is only a call away, still willing to link up with practically anyone looking for a verse.
“It’s called ‘putting paint where it ain’t,’” Quinn muses when discussing his penchant for collaboration. “They take the music to where I’m not taking it.”
Case in point: “Paid,” his recently released collaborative single with genre-bending Panamanian duo Los Rakas. Staying true to the formula that’s made him a Bay Area mainstay, Quinn thoroughly branded the track with his signature energy and delivery.
“Everybody wants to rap like they’re from down south or they have the California swag, the laid-back type flow,” he observes. “I just wanted to make sure I had a record that represented me.”
“Paid” is one piece to a greater three-stage release set to deploy in the coming months. First comes All in the City, a street mixtape produced exclusively by KMEL mix DJ Rick Lee, dropping Feb. 19. In April, he plans to release Cookies and Cream, a collaborative album with Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang signee (and San Francisco native) Berner. The culmination will come with the release of FTC, his studio follow-up to A Hustler’s Hope, his late 2011 collaboration with upcoming Oakland spitter Tuf Luv.
Though Quinn is laying the groundwork for the run-up to his next retail release, he contends that there’s still plenty of work to be done for local hip-hop to gain the same foothold of major markets outside of California that dominate the rap game.
Using Atlanta as an example, Quinn explains that cities with healthy scenes have been able to consistently churn out artists with mainstream appeal. In the case of Atlanta, there’s been plenty of turnover, from T.I. and Ludacris to more recent examples like Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame. It’s a trend that’s long overdue in the Bay Area, according to Quinn.